Members of anash of Baltimore gathered for a picnic celebration marking the launch of a building campaign for a new building that will unite two local shuls under one roof and serve as a community center.
By Chaya Chazan
Signs fluttering in the breeze marked the spot of the one-of-a-kind event for the Baltimore community on Sunday in beautiful Lake Roland Park. The rolling hills and the water gushing over the dam formed the perfect background for the theme of the picnic: building a new center for Baltimore’s rapidly growing Lubavitch community.
Over the past couple of years, Baltimore’s Lubavitch population has surged. Dozens of new families found reasonable real estate prices, a warm sense of community, a Chassidishe atmosphere, a rigorous cheder with notable chinuch, and every kosher convenience they could ever desire, right in the heart of Baltimore’s Jewish community.
While they were welcomed with open arms and hearts, the two shuls serving Baltimore’s Park Heights neighborhood were suddenly found to be in a tight squeeze. Both Ohel Levi Yitzchok, led by Mara De’asra Rabbi Elchonon Lisbon, and its sister shul, Tzeirei Anash, led by Rabbi Nochum Levin, reported insufficient space to host minyanim and shul programs comfortably.
The boards of both shuls joined together to design a new center that will bring both together under one roof, and serve as a central home where the community can daven, learn, farbreng, and host events.
Plans for the new building were announced early in the summer, and the community was invited to a build-your-own picnic to launch the building campaign.
Participants enjoyed constructing their own salads, ice cream sundaes, and wood fire pizzas, as they listened to the transitional board of the shuls share their vision for the new building. They showed the various stages of the fundraising plan, giving insight into the inner workings of the campaign to the entire community. The board welcomed questions and encouraged everyone to actively participate in the building campaign.
“We desperately need a larger shul,” said Rabbi Yishai Shields, a member of the transitional board and Tzeirei Anash. “Currently, we would have to rent other premises for Tishrei, just to accommodate our regular mispalelim and their Yom Tov guests. We look forward to our new center, which will have ample space for everyone!”
Rabbi Lisbon, the Marah De’asera of Ohel Levi Yitzchak and director of Chabad of Park Heights, delivered divrei chizuk, emphasizing the importance of the new building and the potential for the community to grow and thrive with it. Rabbi Nochum Levin, the Rav of Tzeirei Anash, also spoke about the need for achdus in the community and the integral role a unified shul will play.
A special thank you was given to Rabbi Lisbon for having led the community for 35 years and continuing to lead the community today.
“This is a wonderful and very necessary initiative,” agreed Dr. Binyomin Rothstein, a long-time member of Ohel Levi Yitzchok. “We love welcoming new members to our community. With the new building, we’ll have space for them to daven in, too!”
The transitional board is setting up individual meetings with members of both shuls to discuss options for partaking in, contributing to, and helping to meet each phase of the building campaign.
“We want every community member to feel empowered and responsible,” says Rabbi Baruch Niebloom, a member of the transitional board. “Every person should take ownership of this campaign. Remember, we aren’t only building this shul for us, but for many generations to come.”
For more information, or to donate to the new shul, please visit ReachToNewHeights.com or email [email protected]
To find out more about the Baltimore Anash community, contact Rabbi Yishai Shields at (517) 648-1153.
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